First step for a reporter covering a team: Get familiar with opposing depth chart

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — What can a reporter covering a team do to prepare for the first week of the season?

I’m not sure how much curiosity there is to the answer, but I figured I’d share one of my first steps for those interested. One of the things I did Tuesday morning was visits and go to the Texans’ official depth chart. For years, Dan Shonka has done a great service to those covering teams, and anyone interested in learning more about different clubs, by regularly updating depth charts for each team.

So I like to print out the depth chart of the opposing team early each week and start to familiarize myself with it. I usually put it in a file folder and that becomes the first piece of paper in a file that grows throughout the week.

Patriots players often relay that coach Bill Belichick will quiz them on the opposing team — from who is part of ownership right down to the 53rd player on the roster. So this is a way to try to keep pace.

Furthermore, it is a reminder of why we are all here. It is about the games.

This first one is a tough one for the Patriots, who are known as the type of team that gets better as the year goes on. One line of thinking for opponents — and this was reinforced to me by a personnel executive from another club over the last few days — is that the best time to catch the Patriots is early in the season because they are usually still adjusting to what they have. While that is true of every team to an extent, it might fit the Patriots more than others based on Bill Belichick’s knack for seeing the big picture (and willingness at times to sacrifice something in the short-term for a long-term gain).

As for the Texans, as I look over the depth chart, I’m struck by the impressive talent they have at various positions. Their offensive line looks like the weakness, and the Patriots’ ability to exploit that could be their ultimate key to the game.



3 thoughts on “First step for a reporter covering a team: Get familiar with opposing depth chart

  1. Mike,
    Thank you for this. I found this really interesting and informative. I love the mechanics of the media and of how the Patriots prepare for other teams.
    So thank you.


  2. Great stuff for us fans that follow the beat reporters like they are on the 53. Really like what you’ve been posting to your site.


  3. Hey Mike,

    I’m a longtime Follower of yours through your ESPNBoston posts and reports but had never ventured over to your site before today. What a cool little article this is explaining your process a bit. I would love to know more about what it’s like being a beat guy for the greatest team to ever play. Thanks for everything that you do and be confident that there is plenty of interest in how you
    Go about reporting on the club! Thank you!



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